Piece of Cake! | Chanique Rautenbach

The American author and attorney, Cupcake Brown, grew up in California. Her youth was interrupted by violence and emotional turbulence. At 11, she regularly engaged in prostitution, drugs, and alcohol, and by the time she was 13, she had graduated to gang activities and street crime. Cupcake’s story is about choices – the good one and the bad ones – she eventually chose to turn her life around. “Most people would have been daunted by the hurdles she faced. But, despite enormous fear and self-doubt, Cupcake held on for dear life and learned that there was another way — a better way,” says Chanique Rautenbach of Brown, a writer who has had a huge impact on her life and view of her career.

Chanique is a commercial attorney and senior associate with Barnard Incorporated. “I grew up in Lephalale (Ellisras) as a bare foot, ‘skrik vir niks’ bosveld meisie,” she laughs as we share a slice of her favourite chocolate cake. “I was an only child which meant I did all the activities with my dad that you would expect in a father-son relationship. Hunting, scuba diving, squash!” A far cry from the life of depression and defeat that her author-hero experienced, but a life of choices, nonetheless. “My grandparents’ lives were the epitome of determination, hard work and fearlessness. They taught me the same ethic that Cupcake would eventually discover; ‘pray, trust, work hard and grab hold!’”

Chanique went to school in Witbank at the Cambridge Academy where she obtained her O- and A-Levels. From there, she read law at the University of Pretoria. She joined Barnard Inc. in 2015 after moving away from an insurance law firm. “The directors saw something in me and have not been able to get rid of me since,” she chuckles.

As head of department for compliance at Barnard Inc, Chanique is passionate about providing legal solutions to ensure compliance and assisting clients to ensure their legal framework and agreements are done right from the start. She has a vast knowledge of, and expertise in, drawing up and assessing specialised agreements. “We work in a high-pressure environment, but when things get rough, I think of Cupcake Brown and her can-do attitude. My situation is a piece of cake in comparison to what most people face each day.” Chanique works hard to nurture the same intrepidity in her younger colleagues and empower them to greatness. Those same colleagues describe her as a caring, loud, no-nonsense ‘shorty’ – she measures a full 1.53 metres! An impressive combination of ingredients for success, n’est ce pas!?

When Chanique is not helping to make Barnard Inc. one of the top firms in South Africa, she can be found spending time with a good book and a glass of wine. She also enjoys spending time with her family. She’s most proud of becoming a parent.

So, what does Chanique think of being a mamma? Piece of cake? Her cake fork clangs loudly onto her plate as she looks up – a vexed stare in her eyes – then a squint that breaks into a knowing smile. “Piece of cake indeed!” she shrieks.

Read more about Chanique’s work here.